Clash with Islamization?

Saleem Ahmed, Ph.D.

Summary

Samuel Huntington’s 1993 essay “Clash of Civilizations?” foresaw cultural “fault lines” becoming battle lines, with Islam possibly emerging among dominating players. Defining “Islamization” as a belief among some Muslims that they should rule the world and implement the Shariah, this article lists some recent developments validating Huntington’s hypothesis and projects two global futures based on the current Shariah-driven trend, and an alternative future utilizing some “non-Shariah” inspirations.

I believe a clash of the world with “Islamization” is underway exemplified by thirteen  violent international, national, and local developments  listed in Part A along with Muslim sacred text passages possibly  used for justification.  Searching for a solution, Part B discusses some major challenges Muslim face in interpreting their sacred texts,   Part C discusses the history of Muhammad’s evolving “war” and “peace” guidance contributing to these “mixed signals”, and Part D presents two alternative Muslim futures based on an “exclusive Islam” followed by extremists and an “inclusive Islam” followed by Sufis and possibly  majority of other Muslims

A. EVIDENCE OF “ISLAMIZATION”

A. International developments

1. Establishment of the “Islamic Caliphate” by ISIS with a reported ultimatum to non-Muslims to convert or be killed. These are inspired by Qur’anic passages such as Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them (verse 9:5) and Take not the Jews and Christian as friends and protectors (verse 5:51) and several hadith (Muhammad’s purported sayings and actions) promising Paradise with “vestal virgins” to those killed “fighting for Allah” (jihad ).

2. Forced marriage and slave trade by ISIS and Boko Haram, inspired by  Qur’anic passages permitting Muslims to take female prisoners of war as wives or concubines (verse 4:24) and from  Hadith such as Muhammad  selling into slavery female captives from the defeated Jewish Bani  Qurayza tribe.

3. Increasing demand for implementing the Shariah in several European countries where Muslim minorities are flexing muscle, inspired by the belief that Shariah is “mandated by Allah”.

4. Muslim governments generally favoring the Shariah over the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inspired by the belief that the Shariah  is the ultimate guide for Muslims.

5. Increasing demand for autonomy by Muslims in some countries incited by unsubstantiated Hadith that Muslims should not live under non-Muslim rulers.

6. Several cases of individuals being sentenced to death in Africa and Asia for apostasy, in the belief that Muhammad prescribed this punishment.

B. National

7. Pakistan enacting “Blasphemy Law”, whereby, inspired by a belief that any disrespect of the Qur’an or Muhammad is forbidden, transgressors are sentenced to death.

8. Pakistan ex-communicating the Ahmadi sect because it claims its founder was God’s messenger after Muhammad.

9. Malaysia’s Fatwa Council declaring yoga “un-Islamic” because it believes yoga`s ultimate aim is to spread Hinduism.

10. Malaysia’s court debarring non-Muslims from using the word “Allah” as it believes this implies that Allah is also their god.

C. Local

11.Acid throwing in Pakistan on women not wearing the veil in the belief the Qur’an requires veiling.

12. Killing polio vaccinators in Pakistan in the belief this is “a western ploy for espionage”.

13. Killing women in Pakistan on suspicion of adultery because this transgression is perceived to be punishable by stoning to death.

All these episodical incidents share the quintessential ingredient of being “Islamization-based”, thereby possessing the possibility of synergetic fusion with serious consequences.

B. CHALLENGES IN INTERPRETING MUSLIM SACRED TEXTS

With an emotional and unquestioning following of the Qur’an, Hadith, and Shariah, the following major challenges confronting Muslims are probably often overlooked:

Qur’an

Since Muhammad died without leaving a book containing all guidance he had received over the 23 years of his prophethood (610-632 CE), individual revelations, written on leafless stalks of the date palm tree and pieces of leather and stones, were collected from the 20+ followers who used to transcribe these periodically for the illiterate Muhammad. While we do not know the procedure followed in deciding placement in the Qur’an of the 6,200+ verses thus collected, these are not placed chronologically. For example, the initial guidance Muhammad received in 610 CE bestowing upon him the prophetic office and asking him to “proclaim God’s message” appears as verses 1-5 in the Qur’an’s 96th Surah (out of 114), and the last, revealed in 632 CE, announcing the religion has been “completed, perfected, and named Islam”, as verses 3 and 5 in the 5th. And, although the Qur’an clarifies that later guidance superseded earlier guidance (verse 2:106), we do not often know which guidance on any subject came later.  For example, was it verse 5:5, permitting Muslims to eat and intermarry with ‘People of the Book’ (including Jews and Christians), or verse 5:51, directing Muslims to “not trust Jews and Christians”?

While not affecting spiritual guidance, this non-chronological arrangement affects the Qur’an’s temporal guidance significantly. Thus, ISIS probably feels as “righteous” in following the Qur’an’s reactive passages bringing misery to “non-compliant” individuals by inflicting corporal punishments as

does the Aga Khan Development Network in following proactive passages bringing happiness to others by, for example, taking irrigation water to parched lands.

Hadith

These snippets of Muhammad’s purported actions (Hadith) and sayings (Sunnah)1 are also not arranged chronologically. While Malik bin Anas (711-796 CE) produced the earliest extant compilation of 1,720 snippets, most of these deal with spiritual and ritualistic matters, with  snippets on temporal matters including those on Muhammad prescribing punishments, but none on Muhammad forgiving others. Malik might have been particularly interested in eliciting this information from his interviewees to assist in his own judicial work.

During the next 250 years, therefore, Bukhari (810-870 CE), Muslim (817-874), Abu Dawood (817-889), Tirmidhi (824-892), Ibn Majah (824-887), and An-Nasai, (829-915), compiled another 20,000+ snippets. While also carrying contrarian reports (such as Tithes are to be levied on Jews and Christians but not on Muslims, Abu Dawood 1327; and No tithes are to be levied on Jews and Christians, Abu Dawood 1328), thereby possibly representing different stages of Muhammad’s prophethood (see below), these provide a “balanced” approach to handling temporal issues than that provided by Al-Muwatta. For Shias, the sunnah includes anecdotes of their revered imams.

Shariah

Designed to provide boiler plate information to Muslims on the religion’s “do’s and don’ts” based on the Qur’an and Hadith, the Shariah appears seriously limited as it is probably based on only 10% Hadith. The five imams (religious scholar) – Abu Hanifa (699-767), Jaʿfar ibn Muhammad (702-765), Malik ibn Anas (711-796), al-Shafi (760-820), and Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855) – credited with compiling information on which the Shariah is based, died before the six later Hadith compilers  produced their writings (some compilers were not even born then). Thus, with only Al-Muwatta being available to these imams,  the Shariah is more punishing, misogynic, exclusive, and intolerant than some Qur’anic verses and Hadith compiled later. Also, these imams probably assumed that Muhammad’s advice to his followers in all cases was based upon Qur’anic guidance he had already received; the thought that, in some cases Muhammad may have shared his ideas before receiving specific Qur’anic guidance probably did not occur to them. Thus, for example, while the Qur’anic punishment for adultery is 100 lashes with the guilty permitted to marry “others similarly guilty” thereafter (verses 24:2-3), the Shariah’s punishment is stoning adulterers to death because some Hadith prescribe this (e.g., Al-Muwatta 41.1). The possibility that Muhammad may have prescribed stoning before receiving verses 24:2-3 did not cross their mind – although it appears this may indeed have been the case. Seeing this contradictions without any explanation, the imams concluded that the “Hadith guidance superseded the Qur’an”.

The “mixed signals” between Al-Muwatta and later Hadith are underscored by the opposite guidance on two major issues:

  1. Interfaith matters:

Al-Muwatta: May Allah curse the Jews and Christians! They took the graves of their prophets as places of prostration. Two deens (religions) shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs (Al-Muwatta 45.17); and

Others: A Jew or Christian, who becomes a sincere Muslim of his own accord and obeys the religion of Islam, is a believer with the same rights and obligations. If one of them holds fast to his religion, he is not to be turned away from it (Ibn Ishaq 643 and 647-8)2;

b) Jihad

Al-Muwatta: For the one who does jihad in His way, Allah guarantees either the Garden or safe return to his home with whatever he has as booty (Al-Muwatta 21.2); and

Others: The best jihad is to struggle against your soul and your passion in the way of Allah (The Royal Aal Al-Bayt Institute of Islamic Thought, Amman, Note 7).

However, this analysis should not “fault” these imams as they only had Al-Muwatta as guide beside the Qur’an.

Compounding the challenge, the Shariah is not a “book”; it is an amorphous conglomeration of these imams’ writings, with philosophical differences (such as on severity of punishment) leading to five religious schools (madhabs) named after them.

Generally, Muslims follow their religious injunctions unquestioningly. With political leaders also presenting themselves as “saviors of Islam”, the synergy produced by this “spiritual-secular alliance” is reminiscent of the power the Church enjoyed during the Crusades. Thus, writings such as Al-Hilali and Khan’s work entitled Translation of the Noble Qur’an  (Dar-us-Salaam, Riyadh, 1996, p. 10), are often accepted unquestioningly while igniting passion and hate. For example, while the following is the normal translation of verses 5-7 of the Qur’an’s opening chapter:

Show us the Straight Way. The way of those on whom You have Bestowed Your Grace, and not the way of those who go astray (Verses 1:57),

this is how Al-Hilali and Khan have translated the 7th verse:

And not (the way) of those who have earned Your Anger (such as the Jews), nor of those who went astray (such as the Christians) (underlining added for emphasis).

Such “poetic license” probably inspires actions such as church-burning and killing of Christians in Pakistan, often on drummed-up charges under the “Blasphemy Law”.

In the same book and in his essay entitled The Call to Jihad in the Qur’an, (p. 845-64), the former Saudi Chief Justice Sheikh Abdullah quotes 20+ Qur’anic verses such:

. . . Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them and seize them beleaguer them and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war); but if they repent and establish regular prayers and practice regular charity then open the way for them . . . (verse 9:5).

Referred to as the Sword Verse, this is among extremist favorites to justify killing non-Muslims – even Muslims who have “deviated from the Path”.  Its chronology and context are discussed in Part C.

Sheikh Abdullah concludes his 45-page essay by narrowing the concept of Jihad to inciting Muslims to attack (and kill) non-Muslims because the latter “do not follow Allah”. He ignores the “greater jihad” of peace and one’s struggle against one’s own passions and egos. The Sheikh’s thoughts do not carry even a hint of Islam being a religion of peace.
Colored by the perceived historical injustices by al-kafirun (unbelievers) on Muslims, forgotten are the historical injustices of Muslims when they were in power, such as their persecution of Zoroastrians and Baha’is in Iran during the 9th-11th and 19th - 20th centuries, respectively, resulting in large-scale exodus of both groups to India. Currently, the Ahmadi sect is facing similar persecution in Pakistan.  Sheikh Abdullah’s essay also ignores the contribution of al-kafirun to peaceful human advancements, such as in medicines, transportation, and communication, which also benefit Muslims.

C. EVOLVING GUIDANCE TO MUHAMMAD

While the theme of the Qur’an’s guidance on spiritual matters remained unchanged, its  guidance on temporal matters evolved in tandem with the evolving socio-political landscape as suggested by the following six proposed stages of Muhammad’s prophethood:

Stage I. Seeking followers (610-622 CE)

Key revelation (When Muhammad in Mecca, date unknown): Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and discuss with them in ways that are best and most gracious (verse 16:125).

Revealed in the early years of Muhammad’s ministry when he lived in Mecca as marked man with few followers, Divine guidance focused on patience and spirituality (Ibn Ishaq 106).

Stage II. Permission to fight (622-625 CE)

Key revelation (622 CE?): To those (Muslims) against whom war is being waged, permission to fight is given . . .If God had not checked (the aggressive designs of) one set of people by means of another, (then) surely monasteries, churches, synagogues, and mosques, in which the name of God is commemorated in abundant measure, would have been destroyed (verses 22:3940).

After Muhammad obtained a critical mass of followers, he received permission, either shortly before or after his migration to Medina (622 CE), to retaliate (Ibn Ishaq 21213).  The Battle of Badr (624 CE), in which 300 poorly equipped Muslims defeated 1,000+ reportedly well-equipped Meccans, was the first of six major battles during the next eight years, with Muslims as defenders at times and aggressors at other times. There were another 7-8 expeditions, often under someone else’s command. Most led to the gradual expansion of Muhammad’s sphere of influence.

[Symbol]Reflection: A point missed by extremists is that, while verse 22:39 gave Muslims permission to fight, verse 22:40 clarifies that God protects Jewish, Christian, Muslim, and other houses of worship – a far cry from church-burning and killing of Christians in Pakistan.

Stage III. Exclusion of Jews and Christians (624-625 CE)

Key revelation (624 CE): Take not the Jews and Christians for friends and protectors: they are but friends and protectors to each other. He amongst you that turns to them (for friendship) is one of them (5:51).

This probably guided Muhammad to besiege the Banu Qaynuqa Jewish fort after it broke its compact with Muhammad (624 CE, Ibn Ishaq 363-64).

[Symbol]Reflection: I could not understand why Christians were also excluded from friendship as, less than a decade earlier, Abyssinia’s Christian king had given refuge to about 200 Muslims, who,

at Muhammad’s suggestion, fled from persecution in Mecca. Subsequently, that king also refused the Meccans’ request to deport them. Also, there is no record of Christians becoming hostile toward Muhammad at any time. Also, Muhammad’s first wife, Khadijah, came from a Christian background.

Stage IV. Friendship with Christians but continued confrontation with Jews (626-630 CE)

Key revelation (626 CE?):  Strongest among men in enmity to the believers will you find the Jews and Pagans; and nearest among them in love to the believers will you find those who say: “We are Christians” because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world and they are not arrogant (verse 5:82).

Cordial relations with Christians were cemented when Muhammad reportedly signed a charter, around 626 CE, with the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery, Sinai, granting them protection (website alim.com, “Stories of prophets - Muhammad”).   But relations with some Jews worsened, resulting in expeditions against four tribes: Banu Nadir (625 CE), Banu Quraiza (627 CE), Banu Mustaliq (628 CE), and the Jews of Khaybar (628 CE) (Ibn Ishaq 437-523). Muhammad also married women from two Jewish tribes: Juwairya (Banu Mustaliq, 627 CE) and Saffiya (Banu Nadir, 629 CE) and took a third, Rayhana (Banu Quraiza, 627 CE), as concubine as she declined his marriage proposal.

Stage V. Re-affirming hostility with the pagans (631 CE)

Key revelation (631 CE) .  . .  Fight and slay the pagans wherever you find them, seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem (of war) . . . (Verse 9:5)

Known as the Sword Verse, this was revealed in 631 CE, to warn polytheists to stay out of the K’aba, Islam’s holiest shrine located in Mecca (Ibn Ishaq 618-19). Although Muhammad had conquered Mecca a year earlier without fighting, he had not debarred them  from using that sacred structure for their practices.

Stage VI. Completion and perfection of the religion and naming it “Islam”; affirmation of  interfaith harmony (632 CE)

Key revelation (632 CE):  This day have I perfected your religion, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion. . . . (5:3). This day are (all) things good and pure made lawful unto you. The food of the People of the Book is lawful unto you and yours is lawful unto them. (Lawful unto you in marriage) are (not only) chaste women who are believers but chaste women among the People of the Book (5:5).

Revealed during his last pilgrimage (632 CE, Bukhari 9.373)3, this Peace Verse brought to fulfillment Muhammad’s 23-year journey. Earlier that year, on his return from Tabuk, he had started receiving deputations from several countries wanting to make peace with him and perhaps also convert (Ibn Ishaq 627 ff). Thus, with opposition dissipated, Islam became a religion of peace and inclusion. Subsequently, Muhammad sent the following assurance to the Christian kings of Himyar and others (Ibn Ishaq 643; 647-48):

A Jew or Christian, who becomes a sincere Muslim of his own accord and obeys the religion

of Islam is a believer with the same rights and obligations. If one of them holds fast to his religion, he is not to be turned away from it.

It is noteworthy that the descriptor Islam (peace) was applied to Muhammad’s religion only after his mission stood “completed and perfected”. He died shortly thereafter. The following conversation, a few years after Muhammad died, captures the finality of this message:

A Jew said to caliph ‘Umar, “If this verse” ‘This day I have perfect your religion for you, completed My favors upon you, and have chosen Islam as your religion’ (verse 5:3) had been revealed to us, we would have taken that day as an ‘Id (festival) day.” ‘Umar said,” I definitely know on what day this verse was revealed: it was revealed on the day of ‘Arafat (final day of Haj rites), on a Friday” (Bukhari 9.373).

This also confirms Jewish presence in Medina after Muhammad died; and the Charter  Muhammad had reportedly signed earlier with St. Catherine’s Monastery monks, confirmed Christian presence4. These contrast with later demands by conservative Muslims to keep non-Muslims out of Arabia, based on the following  Al-Muwatta hadith that we also saw earlier:

Two deens shall not co-exist in the land of the Arabs (Al-Muwatta 45.17).

The Peace Verse also represents a dramatic shift in Divine guidance on interfaith matters as, only a year earlier Muhammad had received the Sword Verse.

With many Muslims following the Shariah in spiritual matters (such as prayers, fasting, and pilgrimage); secular matters (crime, economics, and interfaith relations); and personal matters  (sex, hygiene, and diet),  its importance is all-pervasive. And with conservative Muslims following the Shariah’s decrees to stone adulterers, cut hands of thieves, require women to be veiled, and treat Jews, Christians, and “infidels” with hostility, the 90% hadith compiled after the five imams had died, were not considered. Therefore, there is an urgent need to formulate Shariah-II.  This will help present Islam as a religion of peace, compassion, gender equality, and interfaith harmony.

The Muslim silent majority deserves credit for not abandoning the ship in spite of the bad press Islam has been receiving. And while some Muslims have serious disagreements with the West over perceived “historic injustices”, trying to “get even” by employing violence based on superseded Qur’anic verses – and in a blanket manner – only confounds the issue. Besides, Islam is not that “fragile” that burning pages of the Qur’an or speaking ill of Muhammad would destroy it. Thus, is the “Blasphemy Law” needed?

D. ALTERNATIVE MUSLIM FUTURES

Shariah-based future

We can get some idea of what might lie ahead under an Islamic Caliphate by recalling the Taliban rule in Afghanistan (1996-2001): They reportedly banned music, shaving beards, keeping pigeons, flying kites, displaying pictures or portraits, western style clothing and hairstyles, music and dancing at weddings, gambling, “sorcery”, and not praying at proper times. Women had to wear the veil and not allowed to work or get educated after age 8; thereafter, they could only study the Qur’an. They could not be treated by male doctors unless accompanied by a male chaperon. We can add to this the above reports of forced marriages  and selling of non-Muslim women as slaves.

Based on this record, democracy under an Islamic caliphate will be replaced by theocracy, with each leader trying to outdo others in intolerance and violence to justify his “credentials” as caliph. Opposition will be crushed, leading to a constant fight for power and succession, which will probably be through killing opponents. Extremists will become increasingly intolerant about questioning by others of Islam or Muhammad, especially since they may not have answers5. Thus, discussing historical facts, such as Muhammad ordering assassination of his enemies or selling non-Muslim female captives as slaves, would probably invite harsh punishment. Shia-Sunni clashes will escalate. Economic development will downslide and quality of life will  deteriorate.

With emphasis on prayers and Qur’anic memorization, human analytic thinking will probably plunge abysmally and the already low level of scientific advancement in Muslim countries, suffer.  A mass exodus of minorities and moderate Muslims to non-Muslim countries could lead to the world getting increasingly more polarized against the Caliphate, with a possible cut-off of medical and technological supplies, thereby hrottling life therein.  In desperation, the “clash” could escalate into war. Welcoming death as passport to Paradise, extremists will become more daring and, believing that the level of one’s reward in the Hereafter depends upon how many kafirs one kills, using nuclear devices could become tempting, disregarding their consequences. The extremists’  conviction about the righteousness of their cause might be gauged from the December 16, 2014, carnage when six terrorists killed 143 students and teachers in Peshawar, Pakistan, and then blew themselves up, possibly looking forward to being greeted by “vestal virgins” in the Hereafter. While the Pakistani government might give the military authority to try future terrorists, the extent of possible success remains unclear. For example, while the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Morsi, was elected Egypt’s president in June 2012, he was forcibly removed in July 2013. Damocles’ Sword will continue to hover above Muslim governments as long as the extremist Muslim mindset remains unchanged.

Inspired by the Shariah, an uncertain future, reminiscent of the protracted and painful Vietnam war, thus lies ahead. For security purposes, therefore, Muslim profiling might become legal in many countries; laws enabling deportation of extremist citizens, enacted; and refining/legalizing the use of lie detector/truth serum under special conditions, considered.  Moderate Muslims will probably welcome all.

An alternative Muslim future

The same Muslim sacred texts extremists used for violence in the above-mentioned thirteen cases also contain the following opposite signals that extremists ignore:

1.Islamic caliphate

Ignored:  Let there be no compulsion in religion (verse 2:256);  A Jew or Christian, who becomes a sincere Muslim of his own accord and obeys the religion of Islam is a believer with the same rights and obligations. If one of them holds fast to his religion, he is not to be turned away from it (Ibn Ishaq, 643; 647-48).

2.Forced marriages; selling non-Muslim women into slavery

Ignored:  Do not inherit women against their will (verse 4:19);  A lady slave should not be given in marriage until she is consulted, and a virgin should not be given in marriage until her permission is granted (Bukhari 9.100).

3.Implementing Shariah

Ignored:  The Shariah is based on incomplete information as discussed above.

4.Implementing Shariah

Ignored:  The Shariah is based on incomplete information.

5.Demand for autonomy as Muslims are not supposed to look under non-Muslim rulers.

Ignored: On Muhammad’s suggestion, about 200 persecuted Muslims sought refuge in Abyssinia ruled by a Christian king (Ibn Ishaq 146 ff).

6.Individuals sentenced to death for apostasy

Ignored: Let there be no  compulsion in religion (verse 2:256) and Ibn Ishaq 643 and 647-8.

7.Blasphemy Law

Ignored: Muhammad was manhandled by some Muslim who would not let go of his collar until he agreed to not punish Jews of Bani Qaynuqa  (Ibn Ishaq 363).

8.Ex-communicating the Ahmadi sect

Ignored:  Allah will raise for this community at the end of very hundred years the one who will renovate its religion for it (Abu Dawood 2011).

9.Malaysia declaring yoga “un-Islamic”

Ignored: The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim; and the imparting of knowledge to the non-deserving is like putting necklaces of jewels, pearls and gold around the necks of swine (Tirmidhi 74).

10.Malaysia debarring non-Muslims from using the word “Allah”

Ignored: God sent messengers the world ove (verse 10:47); God sent 124,000 messengersfromthe beginning of time (Masnad ibn Hambal 21257, seebelow)

11:Acid throwing on unveiled women

Ignored: Both men and women to dress modestly (verse 33:59); After a veiled pagan woman accepted Islam, she unveiled herself and Muhammad  welcomed her (Alim.org/companions).

12: Killing polio vaccinator on suspicion it is a western ploy for espionage.

Ignored: If a wicked person comes to you with any news ascertain the truth lest you harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what you have done (verse 49:6)

13. Killing women on suspicion of adultery

Ignored:  Confession, witnessing, or pregnancy are the only three ways of proving adultery (hadith: ); None of three men claiming to have fathered a son born to a woman was punished (Abu Dawood 932); Muhammad lamented when Muslims killed an adulterer. He asked:  “Why did you not leave him alone? Perhaps he would have repented and been forgiven by God (Tirmidhi 1010).

“Pillars of Islam” versus “Foundations of Islam”

The concept of  the “five pillars of Islam”,  not mentioned as such in the Qur’anis is based on the following Hadith:

Muhammad said: Islam is based on five (principles): To testify that none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle; To offer the (compulsory congregational) prayers dutifully and perfectly; To pay Zakat (obligatory charity; To perform Hajj ( Pilgrimage to Mecca). (Bukhari 1.7).

With an over-emphasis on this in the Shariah, forgotten is the following “countervailing” Hadith:

Muhammad said: The poor of my community would come on the Day of Resurrection with prayers and fasts and charity but would find himself bankrupt since he hurled abuses upon others, brought calumny against others, unlawfully consumed the wealth of others, beat others, shed the blood of others (Muslim 1179).

Thus, the “foundations of Islam”, without which the “pillars” will collapse, have been forgotten. These underscore service to humanity, and include all “cardinal virtues” such as honesty, hard work, discipline, and compassion; these are the same across all religions.

Summarizing, therefore, Muslims are torn by these two opposite and seemingly irreconcilable signals: that of a “peaceful Islam” promoted by organizations such as the Islamic Society of North America; and a “violent Islam” promoted by writings such as of Sheikh Abdullah. Examined candidly, holistically, and as a continuum, however, these two seemingly “irreconcilable signals” present Islam as an organic, historic, and spiritual development that evolved from spirituality and peace through violence and intolerance to understanding and interfaith harmony. Thus, these signals should not be looked upon as opposite banks of a river which never meet, but as water embracing both banks sequentially.

A preferred future

Here are two forgotten sacred text passages:

Qur’anic affirmation: To every people was sent a messenger (verse 10:47);

Hadith affirmation:  God sent 124,000 messengers the world over from the beginning of time verse (Masnad ibn Hambal 21257, quoted by M. Siddiqui, www.PakistanLink, November 24, 2007).

Probably revealed in Mecca during Islam’s earlier years, these “forgotten” affirmations clarify  that Muhammad was sent to reconfirm what had been revealed earlier through a series of messengers sent the world over. Since he was side-tracked from that path by more pressing events, his temporal message of peace was temporarily put on the back-burner. When that threat was neutralized in 632 CE, Muhammad was able to get back on track and articulate the Peace Verse, reiterating, therefore the brotherhood of God’s messengers and underscoring that followers of all spiritually-based religions are fellow-travelers on the road to the same Destination.

However, this Peace Verse has, in turn, has put on the back burner by followers of the Sword Verse.

Thus, public policies supporting proactive “experiential” educational initiatives inspiring followers of all religions to think outside the box are urgently needed to help transform this clash into congruence. Then, by changing  cultural “fault lines” into religious “fraternal lines” and following the “forgiveness hadith”, incidents such as the thirteen “Islamization” developments with which this article began, could become things of the past.

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